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Will Saturn’s rings really “disappear” by 2025? An astronomer explains

If you can get your hands on a telescope, there are few views more spectacular than the magnificent ringed planet: Saturn.

Currently, Saturn is clearly visible in the night sky, at its highest point just after sunset. It’s the ideal time to use a telescope or binoculars to get a good look at the sixth planet in the Solar System and its famous rings.

However, in recent days, a series of articles have been spreading like wildfire on social media across the world. According to them, Saturn’s rings are disappearing quicklyand will disappear completely by 2025!

But so, what’s the story? Could the next two months, before Saturn disappears from the night sky, really be our last chance to see its powerful rings?

The short and blunt answer is no . While it’s true that the rings will become nearly invisible from Earth by 2025, this is neither a surprise nor a reason to panic. The rings will “reappear” shortly afterwards. See why.

Earth’s Tilt and Tilt

To understand why our view of Saturn changes, let’s start by considering Earth on its constant journey around the Sun. This journey takes us through the seasons – from winter to spring, summer and fall, and then back again.

What causes the seasons? Simply put, the Earth is tilted to one side as viewed from the Sun. Our equator is tilted about 23.5 degrees relative to the plane of our orbit.

The result? As we move around the Sun, we alternately tilt one hemisphere and then the other toward our star. When your home hemisphere is tilted more toward the Sun, the days are longer than the nights and there is spring and summer. When it is tilted more towards the opposite side, the days are shorter and the nights are longer, which results in autumn and winter.

From the Sun’s perspective, the Earth appears to “rock” up and down, alternately displaying its hemispheres as it moves around our star. Now, let’s move on to Saturn.

Saturn, a giant and tilted world

Just like Earth, Saturn has seasons, but more than 29 times longer than ours. While Earth’s equator has a tilt of 23.5 degrees, Saturn’s equator has a tilt of 26.7 degrees. The result? As Saturn moves in its 29.4-year orbit around our star, it also appears to bob up and down when viewed from Earth and the Sun.

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Source: CNN Brasil

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